âPeter left,â Bosanka said with a cold little smile.
Lennie didnât say anything. He looked sick.
I felt terrified and reckless. I croaked, âBosanka, what did you do?â
âMaybe made him invisible?â Mimi trilled. She acted totally stoned, but the way I heard it, she had only dipped into drugs years ago and had quit real fast so she was doing it all on imagination now. She just didnât know how else to handle this.
I didnât either, but I had to try.
I said, âI donât know what you did, Bosanka, but youâve got to understand: itâs no use threatening us andâand punishing us. We truly donât know how to do anything for you. You might as well bring Peter back.â
The little stones were gone. Had I really seen them and heard them rattle? Bosanka didnât look like a mighty witch. She looked tired and cranky.
âHe wants to go, he went,â she said shortly. âHe comes back in time. On the weekend when your moon comes full this committee meets again, all of you, to make the sending I want. Saturday night. Go and find the other ones, tell them, bring them. I am telling you now, and no more.â
The bell for the end of the period sounded. Everybody jumped except Bosanka, who turned and strode away, leaving the three of us staring at each other.
âLetâs get out of here,â I muttered, pushing by Lennie and hurrying past the sinks and counters with their goose-necked faucets.
We all pulled up sharply, piling into each other like a comedy schtick on TV, just inside the door. Something was moving in the hallway outside, crashing around and banging against the walls.
I eased the door open. A big brown animal bolted past only a couple of feet from me. Foam flew and landed wetly on the back of my hand.
âItâs only a deer,â Mimi cried at my shoulder. âA cute brown deer, running around in the halls of Thomas Jefferson School!â
We ran after the deer as it floundered, in an obvious panic, down the staircase to the first floor. Another wild dash brought the animal to a clattering halt at the end of the hallway.
Its coat glowed in a patch of light from the panes of the big double doors to the outside. It was a long-legged, shaggy-chinned stag with short gray horns, terrified eyes, and a wet, black, quivering nose.
I whispered over the booming of my heart, âWeâve got to get it outside before it hurts itself in here.â
âEasy,â Lennie said softly, moving toward the frightened creature.
âBut where did it come from?â Mimi gasped, squinting down the hall. She had a death grip on my arm, so I couldnât follow Lennie.
âFrom Bosanka,â I said. âThis is her work. Where else could it have come from?â
And it could have been me . No wonder my mouth was dry and my knees shook.
Mimi let go of my arm and flattened herself against the wall with her mouth open wide and no sound coming out, which I guess was about as good as I could have hoped for.
I heard the soothing murmur of Lennieâs voice. The deer, which stood about chest high to Lennie, lowered its head. If Peter was conscious in there, he must be half out of his mind with terror.
The stag pawed the tiles with one forehoof and tossed its head as if Lennieâs body was already pinned on those horns. Its breathing was heavy and loud. The whole school building seemed to hold its breath around us, silent except for the grating sound of the creatureâs hoof on the floor and its trembling, snorting breath.
Lennie took another soft step.
The stag reared and flung itself backward. The double doors opened and spilled the scrambling animal down the steps onto the sidewalk. Lennie and I ran out after it, way too late. We watched the stag gallop down the avenue and veer westward, toward the park.
Lennie panted, âItâs Peter, isnât it?â
âGot to be,â I said. âShe